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Ask A Cougar: How to Be A Cougar Woman

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You ever hear that statistic about how the more educated you are, the less likely you’ll want to marry? Or how the divorce rate increases with each marriage? What does that tell you? Maybe that us seasoned gals got more interesting things to do than fuss and fret over what he meant by that comment, or what he was really doing that weekend. We’re busy doing exactly what we want to do and not necessarily because there’s some grand sense of purpose and destiny behind it. Maybe it’s just fun and feels good.

And that frankly is all it takes to be a cougar. The ability to say, “Screw that, I’m doing it my way.” Or put another way, “I’m going to follow my heart — at last.”

Whatever you call it, I’d be less than perfectly seasoned in my advice if I didn’t forewarn you. The simple knack of following your heart is virtually guaranteed to take you off the usual life paths. And sometimes you’ll have to put up with stupid things like people labeling you a “cougar” just because your boyfriend’s a tad younger than you.

My attitude about the whole cougar thing is to try not to get too hung on the word itself — to get down to the gestalt (so to speak) of the label. At which point, it dawns on me that being a cougar is really about freedom spiced, perhaps, with a dash of rebellion.

Now doesn’t that sound fun — far moreso than trying to follow a bunch of antiquated rules in your head? Rules like, marry a guy with an actual profession or at least some money in the bank. Have two kids and raise them to be geniuses, while launching a non-profit organization to save the world from poverty and/or global warming. Be super nice but never a pushover. Throw neighborhood parties where even pets are invited. Get tipsy on an excellent Chardonnay but not hammered or, perish the thought, sloppily drunk. Be happy with sex once a year, and for god’s sake, keep your depression to yourself.

Good grief, why waste the second half of your life chasing someone else's idea of the good life? I have girlfriends in their 40s who still think they’ll be sucked into a black hole of loneliness and destruction if they’re not married by the time they hit 50.

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My mother just turned 80. She has been divorced and single for nearly 30 years. Even though my siblings and I have occasionally tried to match her up with someone, or wished she would meet a nice, eligible someone, Mom has been defiantly single and loving it. She has her grandchildren, aged 30 to 5, and a fairly active life that includes the occasional 10K walk or triathlon relay.

Does she qualify as a "cougar," as she has recently started dating a "younger" man - a divorcee in his 60's? He's a terrific fellow we all like a lot. It's great to see Mom finally dating someone she finds intelligent, interesting, well-educated and, most importantly, fun.

I'd say she has been living life on her own terms and a "model" cougar.

May 6, 2009 - 6:11pm
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